The spirit of world peace inside Richard Sherwood, who is organizing the American-Soviet Senior Exchange, was born Aug. 6, 1945, when he piloted a B-29 over Hiroshima, Japan, on a photo-reconnaissance mission.
That was the day the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city. Sherwood, now of Salt Lake City, was sent to fly 200 feet over the streets of Hiroshima to survey the rubble where a city once stood."If people could have seen what we saw, we would have a different world. That's what motivates me to be sure that it doesn't happen again," he said, his eyes squinting through tears.
Sherwood last year participated in the International Peace Walk, treading 500 miles from Moscow to Leningrad. Saturday, he left again for the Soviet Union to search for retired Soviet couples to join him and his wife and other Salt Lake couples in the senior exchange program.
Using contacts made last year on the peace walk and other sources he hopes to develop by walking the first leg of this year's Soviet Peace Walk, Sherwood hopes to find eight Soviet couples willing to trade places with eight U.S. retired couples.
Additionally, the former Salt Lake City Water Department superintendent is, with Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis' blessing, trying to recruit couples from Salt Lake City's informal sister city in the Soviet Union, Chernovtsy. The city is not an official sister city, DePaulis said, but it enjoys a "friendship relationship" with Utah's capital.
Sherwood sees his program as part of the agreement promoting cultural exchanges signed at the first Reagan-Gorbachev Summit. And establishing "people-to-people exchanges," among senior citizens can build relations between U.S. and Soviet citizens with a unique perspective on history.
"The older sets who have gone through a war, been exposed to the media and the cold war are psychologically set for trust," he said. "We can get those older couples to realize there are some changes taking place in Russia and change some opinions."
Sherwood will walk the first leg of the 1988 Soviet American Peace walk across the Ukrainian Republic of the USSR. While on the walking tour, he hopes to establish contacts with English-speaking Soviets willing to come to the United States.
With the help of Henry Borovik, chairman of the Soviet Peace Committee and Rama Vernon, Washington, D.C., director of "The Center for Soviet-American Dialogue," Sherwood anticipates finding Soviet and American exchange participants.
Sherwood has already found four couples from Salt Lake City and Bountiful who will join him in the Soviet Union when he finds Soviet counterparts.
Willing Soviet and American citizens will virtually trade places - cities, homes and pensions - for up to two months at a time, Sherwood said. Those who want to can continue the exchange for a year, Sherwood said.
The total exchange of environments will allow citizens from the world's two greatest powers to "share ideas, resources and political systems, instead of literally wasting all our resources by fighting," Sherwood said.
Sherwood has also broached the exchange idea to some of Utah's congressmen. Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, is interested in exploring the possibility of an exchange with a Soviet government official, said Guy Williams, the congressman's spokesman.
"He feels like exchanges are very useful in furthering our mutual goals," Williams said.